Scanning and discarding tax documents

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mooudn
Posts: 95
Joined: Sun Jan 05, 2020 10:28 am

Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by mooudn »

Hi all,

Is it ok to discard paper copies of tax return documents (including recent ones)? I am de-cluttering and would like to know if I can scan my paper copies and just keep electronic ones.

Thanks
rkhusky
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Re: Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by rkhusky »

mooudn wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 4:14 pm Is it ok to discard paper copies of tax return documents (including recent ones)? I am de-cluttering and would like to know if I can scan my paper copies and just keep electronic ones.
Yes.
DetroitRick
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Location: SE Michigan

Re: Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by DetroitRick »

100% okay. Personally I keep 3 years in paper, the rest electronic. But I would be comfortable keeping the most current 3 years solely in electronic form too - it's just I find the paper handier to reference on the fly sometimes. If I didn't have the room, I would go all electronic without concern.
Besides, almost all my "original" tax documents come to me only in electronic form anyway.

On the IRS website section about audits, they SPECIFICALLY say "Never mail original records. Send us copies".
https://www.irs.gov/businesses/small-bu ... ds-request
yosh99
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Re: Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by yosh99 »

I just finished a year long intensive state audit for three tax years for my small business and me personally. The state auditor set up a web site and asked that all of my documents, receipts, etc be uploaded so everything that I had in paper form had to be scanned in anyway. He never wanted and never saw a paper document.

BTW, the state spent a year and didn't find one error in my taxes over three years. Not one. Kudos to my accountant.
Marseille07
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Re: Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by Marseille07 »

This thread is surprisingly helpful. Now I can scan & shred 10 years of tax returns I thought I had to keep in paper copies.
Vanguard Fan 1367
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Re: Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 »

Marseille07 wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:20 pm This thread is surprisingly helpful. Now I can scan & shred 10 years of tax returns I thought I had to keep in paper copies.
Thanks to Boglehead advice I got a Fujitsu 1500 scanner today. I appreciate the positive reinforcement to get rid of boxes of paper. Life is good !
John Bogle: "It's amazing how difficult it is for a man to understand something if he's paid a small fortune not to understand it."
Marseille07
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Re: Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by Marseille07 »

Vanguard Fan 1367 wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:27 pm
Marseille07 wrote: Tue Dec 22, 2020 5:20 pm This thread is surprisingly helpful. Now I can scan & shred 10 years of tax returns I thought I had to keep in paper copies.
Thanks to Boglehead advice I got a Fujitsu 1500 scanner today. I appreciate the positive reinforcement to get rid of boxes of paper. Life is good !
Mine's a ScanSnap iX1500. With the highest setting, it can scan photos pretty well that I forwent buying a flatbed.
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avenger
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Re: Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by avenger »

I went completely paperless about 6 years ago. No paper in my house.
cheers ... -Mark | "Our life is frittered away with detail. Simplify. Simplify." -Henry David Thoreau | [VTI, VXUS, VWITX, SV fund]
backpacker61
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Re: Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by backpacker61 »

I would upload the pdf's to something like fidsafe.com for safekeeping.

Like an electronic safe deposit box.
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JoMoney
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Re: Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by JoMoney »

I sure hope it is... that's what I do.
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Marseille07
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Re: Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by Marseille07 »

I'm scanning documents / books daily and currently going through old tax documents / receipts. A scanner works great, much better than a flatbed in my opinion.
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FIREchief
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Re: Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by FIREchief »

I've gotten better on this, but likely still have more work to do. I currently keep full paper files for three years and then just skinny files (copies of submitted signed tax forms, W2s/1099s, 5498s) and throw out the rest. Recent years are already fully supported with electronic files, which are retained indefinitely.

I scan everything to support unreimbursed HSA eligible expenses, but have been delinquent in getting rid of the paper. That's likely my next "opportunity."
I am not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor. Any advice or suggestions that I may provide shall be considered for entertainment purposes only.
jeremyl
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Location: Indiana

Re: Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by jeremyl »

What's the best way to get rid of old paper returns after scanning?

Just shred them?
sohcahtoa
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Re: Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by sohcahtoa »

jeremyl wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 8:04 pm What's the best way to get rid of old paper returns after scanning?

Just shred them?
I am partial to a ceremonial bonfire.
palanzo
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Re: Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by palanzo »

jeremyl wrote: Mon Dec 28, 2020 8:04 pm What's the best way to get rid of old paper returns after scanning?

Just shred them?
Chew them slowly. :beer
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cheese_breath
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Re: Scanning and discarding tax documents

Post by cheese_breath »

This question reminds me of an old 1970s Reader's Digest Humor in Uniform story. The story supposedly happened on a Pacific island base during WW II. Apparently they were getting overloaded with old documents, so they requested permission from HQ to destroy the ones no longer needed. The response came back granting permission, but make three copies first.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.
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